Lisa Jennings reports in Nation’s Restaurant News that the California Supreme Court has declined to review an appeals court ruling that earlier this year said Starbucks shift supervisors could legally share in collective tip jars.

In June, a state appeals court in San Diego reversed a Superior Court decision awarding Starbucks baristas $86 million in restitution, plus about $20 million in interest, resulting from a class-action lawsuit filed in 2004.

In the original case, the plaintiffs said Starbucks had illegally allowed shift supervisors to participate in tip pools, citing California law, which prohibits an employer or agent — defined as anyone in a supervisory role — from sharing in tips. The baristas who filed the complaint argued that shift supervisors fall into that category.

The appeals court ruling in June, however, said that Starbucks’ shift supervisors essentially perform the same job as baristas and therefore should be allowed to share in tips.

In its weekly conference on Sept. 9, the state Supreme Court did not say why it declined to take up the case.

David Lowe, an attorney with Rudy, Exelrod & Zieff LLP in San Francisco on the team representing the Starbucks baristas, said there were no further appeals available, but that they were evaluating their next step.

“We’re disappointed the Supreme Court decided not to address the important issues that arose from what we believe is the court of appeals’ erroneous judgment,” he said.

Nation’s Restaurant News